Attention, parents, kids, anybody who appreciates good movies and great food! Ratatouille is a feast so fantastic you'll go running back for seconds. And if you pay close attention, you'll also see that it's a film that tells two great stories at the same time.
The first story is what you'll see on the big screen. And the second—at least the way I see it—is a more subtle, almost allegorical re-telling of what really happened to one of the 20th century's most-loved and enduring pop culture icons …. Walt Disney himself.
Once upon a time, there was an adventurous French chef named Auguste Gusteau (think Walt Disney) whose Paris kitchen (think Disney studios) was famous for awe-inspiring cuisine (Disney's classic animated features, like Pinocchio).
Gusteau knew his strengths and focused on them, serving up heaping plates of excellence to the delight of the customers at his self-titled restaurant. Gusteau's and its namesake became legendary worldwide.
But then, for one reason or another, the quality of his work began to falter. He died, and his successors (think …. Michael Eisner?) sold out, stamping the Gusteau (Disney) name on all manner of mediocrity. The master's face and name eventually flew like a banner over mediocre microwave meals (frivolous features like Pocahontas, and disposable straight-to-video sequels to Disney classics). And eventually his name represented fare that seemed completely unrelated to his legacy (The Muppets?).
And while the masses seemed content to choke down anything contained in a Gusteau can (or released on a Disney label), it looked like Gusteau's name would become synonymous with trash.
Enter Remy, a little rat with a nose for excellence and a passion for cooking. (Enter director Brad Bird, the brilliant storyteller and filmmaker behind The Iron Giant and The Incredibles.)
Remy would never, in normal circumstances, be allowed into the great Gusteau's kitchen. He's a rat after all, likely to be exterminated before his extraordinary talent wins the attention it deserves. (Bird's Iron Giant was badly botched by Warner Brothers, who didn't know that they had a classic on their hands. Thus it never got the box office it deserved.)
But then, Remy meets Linguini (voiced by Lou Romano), a gawky, insecure fellow who works as the kitchen garbage boy. He couldn't cook a microwave dinner if he tried. And yet, when Remy climbs beneath Linguini's chef hat and begins to direct Linguini around the kitchen by pulling on his hair—presto! Or should I say, Pesto?
Can a little guy with a big imagination step into that famous kitchen and restore it to its former glory? Yes. (And yes!)
With Remy's creative genius and Linguini's access to the pots, pans, and ingredients, a new Gusteau masterpiece is just a matter of time. (In the same way, Pixar's powerful chemistry has produced a string of masterpieces …. delivered with the Disney label: A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Cars.)